A crush is a short-lived infatuation that can be defined as feelings of excitement and interest toward someone. The feelings can last anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks and are often mistaken for romantic love.
Crushes are common among teenagers (Bruce & Sanders, 2001; Kornreich et al., 2003), and even many adults in relationships feel them. But while they may not be destructive to the primary relationship, they can predict a variety of other issues related to relationship development and dysfunction, such as infidelity and instability (Miller, 2008; Foster et al., 2014; McNulty et al., 2018).
Having a crush is similar to developing an attraction to someone, according to Dr. Bukky Kolawole, a New York City-based therapist who studies the brain’s attachment processes.
In the beginning, people with crushes enjoy looking at each other from afar and fantasizing about how things might go between them. However, it takes interaction in person to establish a relationship, Kolawole explained. This creates a bond that the brain reacts to differently, like feeling sad when they’re not around or missing them.
When a crush is established, the brain begins to produce chemicals that make you feel giddy and excited. These chemicals include dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is linked to pleasure and reward. Dopamine can also be found in other areas of the brain, such as the hippocampus and amygdala, and is released when someone experiences attraction or a crush.
The hippocampus is part of the limbic system, which produces dopamine and serotonin, the brain’s “feel good” neurotransmitters. It is also responsible for controlling emotions and the body’s stress response.
Some other hormones are also released during a crush, such as cortisol and norepinephrine. These hormones can cause a person to become irritable or anxious.
Other emotions can arise, too, such as fear and anger. If you feel scared or angry when your crush is around, try to calm yourself down by taking a deep breath and counting to ten.
This can help you control your emotions so that you do not get swept away in the moment and hurt them. Similarly, you can distract yourself by doing something fun and exciting, such as going on a date with your crush or watching a movie together.
Another way to get through a crush is to keep an open mind and be willing to explore all the possibilities that may come up, such as what he or she might be like in a future relationship, how you might relate to them, or what their values might be. If you can find an answer to these questions, it might help you develop more positive and healthy expectations for your future relationship with your crush.
In addition, it might help to keep in mind that your crush might not be the right match for you. For example, if they are too old or too young for you, it might be a better idea to focus on other people in your life instead of them.